Up came the July 4th weekend and out came the coin. Heads we go to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Tails we go to the Fourth of July Lake. Eschewing the mundane details, suffice it to say that a few minutes later we found our ourselves on the way to Lassen. Getting there will take you through miles and miles of farmland. This time of the year, they were covered in a sea of yellow - tens of thousands of sunflowers. By the time we got there, we'd seen almost a 15-20 degree drop in temperature because of the gain in elevation.
Lassen National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the country. It is one of the few places in the world to have all four types of volcano - strato, shield, cinder cone, and plug dome. The main attraction is the 10,462 ft Lassen Peak, the largest plug dome volcano in the world. It's also the only volcano in the lower 48, other than St. Helens, to erupt in the 20th century.
Apart from the peak, the other noteworthy features are the fumaroles, mud pots, steaming ground, hot springs. The water is too hot and laden with chemicals such as sulfur which make it impossible and inadvisable to swim or soak in. The smell of sulfur is the first thing you'll notice as you get closer to the area.
These photos are mainly about the steamy side of the park. Some of them are from the southeastern part of the park, in an area known as Devil's Kitchen. (Think boiling mud pots.) The entrance to this area is different from the one to Lassen Peak. You need to get to the little town of Chester and then take a turnoff to Warner Valley. It's easy to miss; best to ask a local if you are having trouble.
The hike to Devil's Kitchen is fairly easy. Keep an eye out for wildlife - lots of deer, squirrel, marmots, and birds. On the way, you could also choose to take a little detour to go see the Boiling Springs Lake. For the best effect, early morning or late evening is probably the time to go, when the lighting is perfect.
The best thing about the park is the lack of crowds as compared to Yosemite. It's still a beautiful place to visit and enjoy. They had so much snow this year that the main road is still closed for a few miles in the middle of the park which means you cannot drive through from one entrance to the other. Check the conditions report before going.
More photos from the Lassen Peak area in another article.
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This is part of the Weekend Exposure feature of the Newsvine Photographers group.